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Cold Hands and Feet (cont.)

Cold Hands & Feet Symptoms and Signs

  • Frostbite and frostnip
    • Frostbitten body parts are white and hard or waxy. They may be white-purple or white-yellow.
    • Frostnipped parts are white but not hard and are generally very small areas.
    • Frozen parts have no feeling.
    • During the freezing process, they may tingle or feel like a block of wood.
    • Once frostbitten areas thaw, they may be painless or tingle.
    • When they are rapidly rewarmed in warm water by the recommended method, they may be painful.
    • Over the next few days, the part is often painful and swollen.
    • Blisters may appear, and severely affected areas turn black.
  • Immersion injury
    • Areas affected by immersion injury are first red and then turn pale and swollen.
    • Numbness or painful tingling may occur.
    • After the first few days, the part becomes very red, tingling, swollen, and may have blisters, skin breakdown, or even liquefy.
  • Pernio
    • Pernio is a rash on the lower legs, feet, toes, hands, or ears that may be red or blue and may form scaly areas or lumps.
    • Rarely, affected parts may bleed, blister, or have skin breakdown.
    • Often pernio causes itching and burning.
  • Raynaud's phenomenon refers to constriction of the blood vessels of the hands or feet in response to cold exposure. Raynaud's phenomenon causes white, then blue, then red-colored fingertips and toes and is often painful.
  • Cryoglobulins cause a wide array of symptoms, depending on whether or not internal organs are involved, including deep-blue fingertips.
  • Cold urticaria refers to raised red bumps or hives produced in response to cold exposure.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2013

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